A Place Like No Other: What is Suffolk Pink & Where Does it Come From?

“Suffolk Pink” is the name given to the unique shade of pink found in abundance on the buildings of Suffolk. Its murky origins are often indistinguishable between local legend and historical fact. What is indisputable is that the colour’s mysterious strands are inextricably embedded within Suffolk’s geography and architectural idiosyncrasies. Use of the colour can be dated back to at least the 14th century, from the traditional practice of adding limewash to natural ingredients native to Suffol

Does living on an island help in the fight against Covid-19?

Much has been made of New Zealand’s successful response to the pandemic, raising the question of how our own small isles have fared. There are advantages and disadvantages to being an island community. Being more self-contained might theoretically help to limit the spread of infection, yet being cut off can present problems in the sourcing of medical supplies—though this does not seem to have dented island vaccination programmes. I spoke to leaders and residents of some of the UK’s islands about

Sturgeon’s plan B: outrun the Covid inquiry

It has been over a year since I attended the last in-person SNP conference in Aberdeen. In that draughty conference centre there was a notable split between Nicola Sturgeon’s faction, favouring a Westminster-sanctioned referendum, and those backing a plan B. Plan B, if Boris Johnson refuses to grant Scotland a referendum, is to pass legislation in Holyrood to hold an “advisory” referendum, the legality of which will be considered by the Scottish courts. The vote will be described as “advisory”

Zedify: Meet the firm trying to make our city streets greener

The UK Government declared a Climate Emergency in the summer of 2019. There is no single definition of what action this mandates, but MPs have pledged to reduce the country’s carbon emissions by 80 per cent by 2050. Whilst not the ‘carbon neutral by 2030’ goal sought by campaigners such as Extinction Rebellion, it is still a sizeable task. Rob King is making lowering emissions in UK cities his life’s work. Alongside co-founder and co-CEO Sam Keam, King is responsible for Zedify, a zero emission

Writing isolation—why Elizabeth Barrett Browning is the poet for our time

Elizabeth Barrett Browning, although a famous poet in her lifetime, has struggled to hold her rightful place in the literary canon. Poet Fiona Sampson’s new biography, , the first of Barrett Browning in 30 years, seeks to rectify that anomaly by looking at the personal life and poetic influence of this remarkable woman. Growing up in Herefordshire, Ba, as she was affectionately known at home, was a tomboy who relished country living. However, as well as her overbearing family, Elizabeth fac

Why in 2020 I couldn’t stop listening to the Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band

It has been 50 years since the group formally disbanded, but for me the ultimate band of 2020 is the Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band. The alternative 1960s outfit’s mixture of trad jazz, English surreal wit and psychedelic pop creates an original collision of language, art and music. In a year that has made us question everything, I found myself returning to their creative, existential questioning.

UK exams policy is now hopelessly fragmented. Young people will suffer

The pandemic has wreaked havoc on education at all levels. Schools and further education institutions across the United Kingdom have been subject to rolling restrictions and an unpredictable isolation timetable. The deteriorating coronavirus situation now throws into question plans for schools to return in January. Scotland and Wales have cancelled next summer’s GCSEs, National 5s, A-levels and Highers, yet England and Northern Ireland seem determined to press ahead with exams in five months.

Why we have reached a moment of truth for freedom of information

Politicians are often exuberant about transparency and laud the notion of freedom of information, until they find themselves in government. For then transparency equates to accountability. It was Tony Blair’s administration that finally wrangled the lofty arguments for “right of access” into legislation, but Blair now retrospectively describes the Freedom of Information Act as “utterly undermining of sensible government,” arguing that the act is not used “to bestow knowledge on ‘the people.’

Are we witnessing the unravelling of the SNP’s well-rehearsed act?

Last week the SNP took the unwise decision to downgrade 125,000 Scottish Qualifications Authority exam results, in order to maintain the “credibility” of the system from over-inflated teacher estimates. The policy, never destined to be popular, proved so controversial because it relied on assessing the past performance of individual schools. This meant that pupils appeared to be assessed on where they were from, not necessarily on their own demonstrable academic record.

What now for the Scottish Conservatives?

Whither the United Kingdom? It may have been thought that a global pandemic would halt the constitutional question that has plagued Scottish politics for so long. But the Scottish Conservatives are deeply worried about the union, and they have reason to be. The most recent polling suggests that independence now carries majority support in Scotland, with 54 per cent stating they would vote “Yes” if there were a new referendum.

How might an independent Scotland join the EU?

Politics as we have come to know it may be taking a hiatus, but it has not ceased completely. Scottish independence rocketed back up the agenda in the wake of the Brexit vote and debate will continue over the merits and drawbacks. One fundamental question is how an independent Scotland would join the European Union. Here, Kirsty Hughes, director of the Scottish Centre for European Relations, answers some questions about its new report, “An Independent Scotland in the EU: Issues for Accession.”

Who is new Scottish Conservative leader Jackson Carlaw?

The recent appointment of Jackson Carlaw as the new leader of the Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party was more of a coronation than a contest. Carlaw has been the interim leader of the party since Ruth Davidson went on maternity leave and continued in the role after her resignation in August, having previously served as her deputy since 2011. If the appointment was predictable, the surprise is rather how little Carlaw seems to be known compared to his highly familiar predecessor.